Prepared for the Inter-American Dialogue conference on education reform in Latin America and the Caribbean, Washington, November 15, 1994. An associated meaning of democracy in education relates to the very practice of teaching in the classroom. Education in Latin American schools tend to be ritualized, bureaucratic, based on root learning, and disconnected from the student's surrounding realities. The proposed alternative is to allow the students to construct their own path to learning, based on their own life experience and creativity. But, in societies with such high levels of inequality as the Latin Americans, good quality, centrally produced pedagogical materials are necessary to compensate for the inequalities in teacher skills, family backgrounds and local resources that differ widely among regions and social groups. "Creative" pedagogies can end up perpetuating inequalities, and leaving students without basic information and skills needed for their lives.